Anger at Belgian atrocities inquiry

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The Independent Online
FAMILIES of the victims of Belgium's child-sex and murder atrocities reacted angrily yesterday to the report of a parliamentary inquiry which dismisses claims that Marc Dutroux was shielded by corrupt police or politicians.

The man now in jail facing trial for running a paedophile ring which first abused, then murdered four young girls, took advantage instead - the report concludes - of a police and judicial system where incompetence was endemic.

Police behaved with "incompetence amateurism and negligence" said MPs whose inquiry lasted over a year. The report condemns the "profound deficiencies" in the judicial and police system but says there is no evidence of a high- level cover-up or conspiracy. Dutroux does not appear to have been at the centre of any network.

But parents of some of the victims criticised the inquiry's failure to point the finger of responsibility at political leaders in a country where judicial appointments are carved up along political lines.

Pol Marchal, whose daughter An's body was found buried in Dutroux's garden, said: "Nothing fundamental has changed. Once more the traditional coalition parties ... have succeeded in protecting themselves".

For Gino Russo, whose eight-year-old daughter Melissa also died after months of abuse at the hands of Dutroux, the conclusions make no sense. Detectives searched his house three times when Melissa and her friend Julie Lejeune were still alive but although the officers heard children's cries they found nothing.

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